Movie 411: LaLa Land


Directed by:

Damien Chazelle

Screenplay by:

Damien Chazelle

Rated:

PG-13

Release Date:

December 2016

Genre:

Musical, Drama

The Hook:

Musical!

 

An aspiring actress and determined jazz pianist cross paths while pursuing their careers in the heart of Los Angeles. They fall in love and together they weave through the ups and downs of the entertainment business.

The Review

As soon as I saw the preview I just had to watch it. In theaters. Because I’m a fangirl of musicals. Well, most musicals. The really good musicals. Anyway. Not only was it a musical, it was the kind of music that got me. I’m a sucker for this type of sound and couldn’t wait to see how this enhanced the movie. Never mind the plot! Oh, and it had two of my favorite movie people, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Sold!

The Plot . . .

It’s your typical boy meets girl, they fall in love, they have some problems, they have some big problems, they have a big decision to make, dot-dot-dot to be continued. It wasn’t really a “to be continued” in the normal sense of the phrase. Ah, I’ll explain that in a bit. So, it’s your typical romance plot. In this case, it follows an aspiring actress and an aspiring musician and it’s set against the backdrop of LA.

It’s pretty straight forward as far as the story goes. Where it shines is in the presentation.

. . . and Presentation

It’s a musical. The End.

Of course, I’m kidding.

There are so many good things about the presentation that I’m not sure where to start. The story unfolds at a good pace from  the beginning. From the first meeting (traffic!) to setting the character background (a café, an audition, a restaurant, another restaurant) to the moments of song scattered throughout the movie, fabulous.

Before I go any further, however, I would like to say that Emma Stone (Mia) and Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) are awesome! I think when your focal point of the story is a romance, you hope to see that chemistry between the leading lady and the gentleman because, well, that’s your whole movie. And they nailed it (unlike some other movies I know off. Disappointing, really, they are, but not this one!)! Stone has this . . . feisty? . . . energy that shines through this movie and Gosling balances and grounds it, which results in a really solid on-screen duo and a wonderful Hollywood romance.  A modern day Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The music score is awesome. I can’t say enough about it. It has that old-school jazz with a modern day edge to it and I absolutely love it. It works. It just works. And these musical moments are well executed. It was just so fun to watch!

And here is where I’m throwing a spoiler alert warning because it is this moment that I think is pure genius. The moment that had me #mindblown.

[su_spoiler title=”#SpoilerAlert” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]

It’s the scene right after Mia goes answers an audition call that may lead her to an acting job in Paris. Sebastian and Mia are sitting on the bench, contemplating the next step. Fast-forward to five years and we see that our couple have separate lives and they end up crossing paths one night in Sebastian’s bar, Mia with her husband (and in case it needs to be said, her husband is NOT Sebastian). There’s a flashback of the past five years and we see two different timelines, two different scenarios. The first is Mia and Sebastian end up on different paths. Mia’s successful acting career with a family of her own which leads to a date night with her husband and her watching Sebastian perform “their song” on stage in his jazz bar. The second is Mia and Sebastian’s life together. He follows her to Paris, they marry and start a family, and they both end up in this jazz bar with a random performer. Ultimately, the flashback ends with Mia and her husband walking out of the bar and she throws a backward glance at Sebastian. Fade to black, the end. What is genius in this moment, for me, is that the movie ends with them on the park bench and NOT with Mia walking out of the bar. Everything shown after that bench is the two possibilities that could happen, not that it HAS happened. Why else show two? In one timeline, both accomplish their dreams. Mia’s a successful actress and Sebastian opens his bar. They both accomplish their dreams but they don’t end up together. In the second timeline, they end up together, happily married, but Sebastian doesn’t have his bar. Genius.[/su_spoiler]

So, yeah. Good acting, check. Good music, check. Good story, check. Check, check, check.

The Verdict

This is an absolute must watch, must own for anyone who is a fan of movies and who can handle musicals. It’s so well done. I can see why it’s won the recognition it has. It’s brilliant!



Photo Credit: ClickTheCity.com

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